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Rocker Jesse Malin recovering after spinal stroke leaves him paralyzed below waist

BY THE VILLAGE SUN | Jesse Malin, the punk rock godfather of the East Village, recently shockingly revealed that last month he suffered a rare spinal infarction — a.k.a. a spinal stroke — that has left him paralyzed from the waist down.

Malin, who owns Niagara bar and the Bowery Electric live music club, has been a professional musician since age 12. He sprung to fame in the 1980s with the hardcore band Heart Attack, followed by his glam punk band D Generation (“No Way Out”) in the 1990s.

Rolling Stone reported that Malin was at a party at an Italian restaurant on May 4 when he suddenly felt a burning pain in his lower back that traveled all the way down to his heels, and he collapsed onto the floor and could no longer use his legs.

“Everybody was standing above me like in ‘Rosemary’s Baby,’ saying all these different things, and I was there not knowing what was going on with my body,” Malin said.

Jesse Malin performing with Butch Walker in March at Webster Hall. (Photo by Everynight Charley Crespo)

He was rushed Uptown to Mount Sinai Hospital. During two weeks at the hospital, he underwent a number of spinal procedures.

As of June 14, he had been transferred to a New York University medical rehab facility where he is learning to function without use of his legs. He was expected to be discharged later this month, after which he will need to move from his walk-up apartment to a handicap-accessible building with an elevator.

“This is the hardest six weeks that I’ve ever had,” he told the magazine. “I’m told that they don’t really understand it, and they’re not sure of the chances. The reports from the doctors have been tough, and there’s moments in the day where you want to cry, and where you’re scared. But I keep saying to myself that I can make this happen. I can recover my body.”

Spinal strokes account for only around 1 percent of all strokes.

Only a little more than a month before Malin was laid low, he had headlined a sold-out show at Webster Hall to celebrate the 20th anniversary of his debut solo album “The Fine Art of Self Destruction.” Among fellow rockers joining him onstage were Lucinda Williams, Butch Walker, Tommy Stinson of the Replacements, Adam Weiner of Low Cut Connie, Aaron Lee Tasjan, Cait O’Riordan of the Pogues, Catherine Popper of Puss n Boots and Diane Gentile of Diane & the Gentle Men.

In addition to the cost of relocating, Malin is also now facing mounting costs for long-term care and outpatient rehab. His manager and friends have created a fundraiser for him to accept tax-deducible donations through the Sweet Relief Musicians Fund. (You can donate here.)

“[Jesse] is under neurological care at Langone Orthopedic Center at NYU Hospital,” the Sweet Relief page says. “His diagnosis is inoperable. There is hope but it will be a long hard road using both traditional and alternative medical therapies to get him back on his feet following this very tragic diagnosis.

“Jesse is going through so much physically and emotionally. His insurance is good but it will not cover many of his expenses beyond acute care. Your donation can help relieve him of the added pressures associated with the enormous expense of his immediate and long-term care.

In December 2021, Jesse Malin held a benefit for his former D-Generation bandmate Howie Pyro, who was recovering from a liver transplant. (Photo by Everynight Charley Crespo)

“Anyone who knows Jesse,” the fundraiser page adds, “will tell you he is always the one who gives, the one always there for those in need, as evidenced by his work with various charity efforts. Among them: Sweet Relief, MusiCares, Light of Day Foundation, Joe Strummer Foundation, Save Our Stages, Joey Ramone Foundation for Lymphoma Research, Joey’s Song, Black Lives Matter, Howl Helps, Positive Panther Benefit (Natalie Beaverstock/fan for a wheelchair), Rock The Night Foundation, Rock Against Racism, Jail Guitar Doors, The Bowery Mission, Road 2 Recovery Foundation, Little Kids Rock Foundation, and food banks around New York City.”

Malin told Rolling Stone he has mixed feelings about receiving help.

“I always felt that we have a voice with these microphones and with these guitars and with these venues to help each other out,” Malin said. “But it’s very hard for me to take back and be that person. I don’t want to be a burden, but I’m learning. Just laying here and not being able to walk, it’s very humbling.”

The community group Bowery Alliance of Neighbors posted a notice about Malin online, noting that his Bowery Electric club, at 327 Bowery, “helps keep alive the spirit of CBGB.”

“A friend tells us Jesse is facing matters with a ferocious fighting spirit, but like anyone facing such a challenge, we’re sure he would welcome well wishes,” BAN’s note says, adding that cards can be sent to:

Bowery Electric
327 Bowery
New York, NY 10003
Attn: Jesse Malin

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